Their client-friendly approach ensures individuals feel safe and confident with them
Dealing with the loss of a family member is always difficult. In certain cases your local coroner may decide to hold an inquest to investigate the circumstances surrounding an individual's death. Whilst this process is usually extremely useful in examining what has happened, it is difficult to manage on your own.
An inquest is a hearing – usually in public where the coroner reviews evidence and calls witnesses with the purpose of clarifying who the deceased person was and how, when and where they died. Family members are deemed to be interested parties and are entitled to be represented at such hearings. An inquest is not a trial and it is not the coroner's role to attribute blame for a death but he or she may look at the acts of others that could be relevant to the cause of death.
The coroner can give a narrative verdict which makes it clear that the coroner thinks certain acts or omissions were relevant and can also make recommendations to public bodies (for example NHS trusts) about their procedures to try to avoid repeat occurrences.
We regularly represent families at inquests, helping them to participate in the process and supporting them throughout. We will sit down with you and identify what information is available and the questions and concerns that you have and then liaise with the appropriate bodies – from the coroner to the police and hospitals - to obtain further details. We usually discuss with the coroner the witnesses who will be called and highlight the issues we think need to be considered. On the day we will represent you, either in person or with a barrister, and we can also assist if the media takes an interest.
Often, if there is a potential claim, we can represent you at the inquest without charge. In cases where a claim is likely to be investigated, the inquest is a useful part of gathering information – and findings by the coroner may carry weight in the parties' decisions about who is likely to succeed in any subsequent claim.
Where a death is unexpected and/or there are significant concerns about the circumstances, we will often suggest making contact with the coroner if he or she is not already involved. This can be a vital process in obtaining answers, regardless of any subsequent claim. We would always advise seeking legal representation where an inquest is proceeding because of the ability of a legal team to get further information and liaise with the coroner about issues. It is important to seek legal advice as early as possible to maximise the time available to investigate and prepare for the hearing.
Representing the parents at the inquest into the death of their twin baby boy, Harry Page, who suffered fatal injuries following manoeuvres carried out by the obstetrician who delivered him at John Radcliffe Hospital, Oxford.
Representing the widow of an elderly gentleman who was dropped by the ambulance crew while being taken to hospital causing an acute subdural haemorrhage – although the crew failed to inform anyone and he died before surgery.